DVD review: PETER GABRIEL – Back To Front: Live in London

Peter Gabriel - Back To Front Live in London

Eagle Rock [Release date 23.06.14]

While Steve Hackett has been doing a stunning job of breathing fresh life into the early Genesis back catalogue, Peter Gabriel has been backtracking a mere 25 years to similar acclaim.  In his case, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of So – the album that saw him venture into ‘pop’, pen a sting of ‘classics’ like ‘Red Rain’, ‘Mercy Street’, ‘Don’t Give Up’, ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘Big Time’, and hit #1 in the UK, #2 in the US.

For this spectacular live tour, Gabriel’s reunited his original So touring band of David Rhodes (guitar), David Sancious (keys), Tony Levin (bass) and Manu Katché (drums) and they put on an unparalleled display of dexterity, supported on backing vocals by the equally impressive Jennie Abrahamson (fabulous on ‘Don’t Give Up’) and Linnea Olsson.  A self-confessed hoarder, Gabriel has also resurrected the original show lighting booms, and with lighting director Rob Sinclair used cutting edge technology to create a veritable visual feast.

As Gabriel himself explains, the show is in 3 parts – the first an acoustic set played in the full glare of the house lights, followed by an electronic transitioned in dramatic fashion before the main course – So played in its entirety for the first time.  Of course, Gabriel was never a conventional ‘pop’ or rock star – always pushing the envelope – and Back To Front isn’t so much a gig, as an irresistible experience.

If you’re thinking of indulging, there are, naturally these days, both DVD and bluerays, plus deluxe editions that offer a 60 page hardback photo , a double CD and a second disc containing the theatrical version of Back To Front plus additional interviews and montage versions of Solsbury Hill and Sledgehammer.

What’s striking – the aural and visual experience aside – is the realisation that in 1986 Gabriel became the messiah for a generation whose formative years weren’t in the 1970′s.  As a result the demographic of the Back To Front and Genesis Revisited tours are unusually different.  Popular demand means the show will (like Hackett’s) be taking to the road in the UK again in the autumn.

You’d be well advised to drink deeply from both fountains.  *****

Review by Pete Whalley

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